Ducduc lost his left eye in May after he was hit in it by a stone during a race at Calder Casino & Race Course.
But limited vision didn’t deter him on Saturday when he found an opening near the rail, which he couldn’t directly see, and rallied to beat Tell Tale Friend by a length in the $55,000 Our Dear Peggy Stakes at Calder.
“The inside was the only place he could go,” said Shivananda Parbhoo, the owner of Ducduc. “He didn’t let it bother him. He looked like the horse he was before [the eye injury].”
The 1 1/8-mile our Dear Peggy was scheduled for turf, but Calder moved it to the dirt following heavy rain late in the week. Ducduc was ridden by Fernando Jara and won in 1:53.32, a solid time for the distance at Calder.
The 4-year-old filly Spectacular Sky won the co-feature $55,000 Whippleton Stakes — beating a field in which all five other horses were males.
Luis Saez rode Spectacular Sky in the seven-furlong dirt stakes. It was one of his five wins on Calder’s 12-race card.
The victory was the third in a row for Spectacular Sky, who is trained by Marty Wolfson,
Ducduc’s win was his first since Oct. 23 in the Joey Blueeyes Stakes on turf at Calder.
“It’s awesome to win a stakes at Calder, and gives us a good feeling again,” said Parbhoo, who lives in Davie and heads his family’s Shivananda Racing stable.
Ducduc’s victory came at the end of a summer in which Shivananda Racing’s star sprinter, Giant Ryan, was euthanized after sustaining a leg injury in a stakes at Belmont Park on June 9.
The Parbhoos also own Trinniberg, one of the country’s top 3-year-old sprinters.
Ducduc’s mishap occurred on May 5, when he finished second in the Sumter Stakes on the dirt at Calder.
After several weeks of treatment, doctors removed the injured eye. Parbhoo then gave the 6-year-old Ducduc a two-month break from racing.
“He came back like he wanted to run again,” Parbhoo said.
But in his next three races, all stakes at Calder, Ducduc had two fifth-place finishes and a fourth-place finish.
On Saturday, Ducduc was the 3-1 co-second choice in a seven-horse field.
Oligarch, also at 3-1, led Tell Tale Friend, at 4-1, by a length after three-quarters of a mile in 1:13.22.
Ducduc was another 2 1/2 lengths back in third.
Tell Tale Friend took the lead in the far turn and was two lengths in front of Ducduc entering the stretch.
Ducduc passed Tell Tale Friend about 100 yards from the finish and went on to his ninth win in 36 career starts.
Oligarch finished third, followed by the 8-5 favorite Primary Witness.
“I think he’s [Ducduc] better on turf than dirt,” Parbhoo said. “When he’s right like [Saturday], either is OK.”
The Whippleton was Spectacular Sky’s first race against males.
As the 3-5 favorite, she led almost the entire route and won in 1:24.03.
Close It Out and Black Diamond Cat finished in a dead heat for second, 3 1/4 lengths behind Spectacular Sky.
“She has the speed, and I knew she could run against the boys,” Wolfson said. “I was surprised that nobody went out and challenged her.”
Wolfson didn’t rule out running Spectacular Sky again against males. But he said he probably will pick a fillies and mares stakes at Belmont for her next race.
Calder will add Wednesday to its schedule this week. It will have racing Wednesdays through Sundays until the end of its season on Nov. 30. First post time is 12:30 p.m. each day.
On Saturday, Calder will have its annual Festival Preview with four stakes races. The feature will be the $100,000 Foolish Pleasure, at one mile and 70 yards on dirt for 2-year-olds.